As his statewide summit on global climate change was getting under way in San Francisco Tuesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released the copy of a letter the governor sent to President George W. Bush Monday requesting that California be given a waiver from federal preemption of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards. Schwarzenegger was following up on a request his Resources Agency made last December.

The governor asked the president to keep California’s stiff GHG emission standards from being preempted by federal standards as the state Air Resources Board had requested of the Bush administration in a Dec. 21, 2005 letter. It sought a waiver of preemption under the federal Clean Air Act for the California GHG emission regulations.

“We trust that you will continue the long tradition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in applying waiver law and broad federalism principles that for more than three decades of waiver practice have made implementation of the Clean Air Act provisions [Section 209b] a success for California and the nation,” a Resources Board executive officer wrote to U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

Gov. Schwarzenegger in his letter to the president called global warming “a grave threat” to his state’s water supply, coastline, environment, economy and public health, adding that “global warming is likely worsening the severe weather that has caused so much damage lately in the United States.

“This imminent danger has led my administration to actively pursue strategies to reduce GHG emissions in order to protect our environment while also strengthening our economy,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his letter.

“California and those other states that want to be free to protect the environment deserve nothing less,” he said.

Beginning in automobile model year 2009, new California standards will phase in and ramp up over eight years to “cut global warming emissions nearly 30% by model year 2016, Schwarzenegger outlined in this letter. The governor said that the standards can be met with existing technology and save vehicle owners in lower maintenance and fuel costs over the lifetime of their vehicles.

“The Clean Air Act expressly recognizes California’s right to set its own vehicle emission standards, and the right of other states to adopt those standards,” Schwarzenegger told Bush.

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